A mother faked her own death and that of her son in a custody battle
PORTLAND, Oregon. – A Canadian mother is accused of going to extraordinary lengths to avoid a custody dispute by faking the deaths of herself and her son, stealing a friend’s identity, then fleeing to the United States. United.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Dawn Walker in U.S. District Court in Oregon last Friday.
Walker faces charges of aggravated identity theft, a felony and possession of false identity documents, a misdemeanor.
Authorities said Canadian investigators contacted Oregon Homeland Security investigators last Thursday and said Walker entered the United States with her child without permission. Walker had picked up the child from his biological father a few weeks earlier.
Canadian authorities said after issuing a missing alert for mother and child last month, a citizen came to report that several objects were in a local park.
Items included a blanket on the floor, a purse with ID, and a broken fishing rod lying halfway in the water.
Prosecutors said Walker created this checklist to help stage the disappearance. (Credit: US Attorney’s Office)
The ID matched Walker and authorities originally suspected foul play. They later suspected the mother and son had been swept away by a current and died, but continued to offer a $10,000 reward for information on their whereabouts.
The financial dealings led authorities to believe Walker ended up stealing the identity of a close friend to illegally enter the United States, according to court documents. Prosecutors said the lead led them to discover that Walker rented an Airbnb in Oregon.
Investigators monitored Airbnb and eventually arrested Walker.
Court documents revealed the officer found a “checklist” belonging to Walker that included ways to fake the deaths of herself and her son. The checklist included dyeing her hair, packing up the car, throwing her phone in the water, and dumping her car near the bridge.
Walker is currently being held in an Oregon prison. Her son was returned to his biological father.
“The defendant kidnapped her own child and fled to the United States,” prosecutors said in court documents. “The elaborate scheme she engaged in was designed for one purpose – to avoid the law and not be found.”
But Walker said she had a reason for her actions.
“I left Saskatoon because I feared for my safety and the safety of my son,” Walker said in a statement to CBC News. She did not name the person she said she fears, but Walker has previously made domestic violence allegations against her ex, who is the father of her seven-year-old son, the outlet reported.
Also according to the CBC, Canadian authorities said the domestic violence allegations were investigated, but unsubstantiated.
Walker’s family members are urging the public not to judge.
“Her situation needs understanding and compassion, and she needs to be heard,” said Sister Kathy Walker, the Radio-Canada reported.
The outlet reported that there was an online fundraising campaign organized by Idle No More to support Dawn’s legal defense.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.